Seconds out, round two of potentially four head-to-heads this season between Pembroke and Glenanne as the province’s top two over the past decade lock horns in this weekend’s stand-out Irish Senior Cup tie
The pendulum regularly swings from the sublime – last season’s IHL final – to the ridiculous – the card-fest in the ISC semi-final last Spring – but always creates the major talking points.
Pembroke have had the edge, winning at Serpentine Avenue pre-Christmas and winning the two afore-mentioned ties on penalties, and have David Harte back between the posts with injury and exams behind him.
For the Glens, Steven Doran still has a cracked rib to contend with but showed few ill effects with a couple of excellent saves last week against Rovers in the IHL.
Gary and Graham Shaw were both excellent that day while Stephen Butler and Joe Brennan are building a formidable central defensive paring. Snuffing out a resurgent Justin Sherriff and the obvious Alan Sothern threat will be key while, if Tim Lewis continues in midfield, his battle with Graham Shaw could catch the eye.
Ronan Gormley and Paddy Conlon are still in the Bahamas at a wedding.
Corinthian, meanwhile, play Cork C of I in another major test of their credentials as they look to add the scalp of Munster’s finest to the destruction of Cork Harlequins before Christmas.
CI are a different level, though, and John Jermyn’s brilliance will need to be countered by robust performances from Andrew Sutton, Chris Pelow and Henry Micks in the engine room. Darren Kimfley, Rowland Rixon-Fuller and Lucas Piccioli will look to use their nous to unlock the youthful Cork defence while Davy Carson has recovered from illness to take up his place in a full panel.
Three Rock compete in the third of the all-IHL ties to be played in Dublin in the second round, hosting Ulster champions, Cookstown.
The Co Tyrone club’s form offers up a bizarre quandary. For so long, Coolnafranky was the for the fortress on which back-to-back league titles was built. This term, with a new water-based pitch in situ, their home form has deteriorated but, conversely, they have been irresistible on their travels.
With David Ames, Colin Donaldson and Andy Barbour bringing the international class, they are unbeaten away from home, including a big win at Glenanne Park. Rovers are still a competitive unit but will be without Garry Ringwood due to exams while the game marks Ali Haughton’s last fixture before going travelling.
YMCA face a tough away day against Mourne men Kilkeel – their counterpart in the Ulster Premier in fifth spot – on their sand-based pitch.
It is Jacob Webber’s last game before returning to Australia while Richie Pedreschi could be back in contention after midweek exams ruled him out of the Pembroke tie. Charlie Carroll might be the man to make way as he picked up severe bruising on his arm on his return to senior hockey.
Monkstown face the longest trip, going all the way to Donegal to play Ulster’s bottom-placed side Raphoe while Fingal face Lisnagarvey for the fourth time in six years.
Instonians play Banbridge for the second time in six days looking to avenge last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Havelock Park while Mossley play Annadale in the Belfast derby.
In division two, Dublin Uni have their third attempt at ending Suttonians’ unbeaten run this term to keep any semblance of a mathematical chance of promotion in their sight.
Weston play Avoca, also the third time they have met, with the Blackrock side hoping the injury crisis that saw coach Mark Cullen named in the squad last week will be avoided.
On Sunday, the last pair of National Indoor Trophy finalists will be known as Avoca and Glenanne compete against sole Ulster entrants Belfast Harlequins.
Men’s Irish Senior Cup, round two (Saturday):
Corinthian v Cork C of I, 1.30pm, Whitechurch Park; Pembroke v Glenanne, 3pm, Serpentine Avenue; Raphoe v Monkstown, 1pm, Royal and Prior; Mossley v Annadale, TBC, The Glade; TRR v Cookstown, 3pm, Grange Road; Fingal v Lisnagarvey, 2.30pm, ALSAA; Kilkeel v YMCA, 1.30pm, McCauley Park; Instonians v Banbridge, 1pm, Shawsbridge.
Men’s Leinster Division Two:
Dublin University vs Suttonians, 10.45am, Grange Road; Weston vs Avoca, Griffeen Park, 2pm
Men’s National Indoor Trophy, Group IV (Sunday, DCU) Avoca v Glenanne 1, 1.10pm; Belfast Harlequins v Glenanne 1, 2.15pm; Avoca v Belfast Harlequins, 3.20pm